Friday, July 22, 2011

can it

Canning!  There is something magical about opening up the cabinet and finding last spring's strawberries in a jar, waiting to join up with a bit of peanut butter on fresh bread.  It brings back not only the season, but in my case, my childhood.  My family has always preserved the harvest and I have fond memories of my grandmother's garden with the strangely colored and shaped tomatoes.  Of course, I have less fond memories from my teenage years of standing in a warm kitchen, working the food moule to get the seeds out of stewed tomatoes prior to freezing, but I blame that on being a teenager more than the activity itself.

Harvest has begun here in Colorado and I have made several fun trips to the farmer's markets, making friends with the various vendors.  I am furiously scouring canning cookbooks from my collection and from the stack of library books I have acquired over the last week.

First up, unexpectedly, were figs.  Decidedly not a farmers market, or even a purveyor of local foods, Costco had a flat of the loveliest looking fresh figs.  In my quest to educate the palates of my sons (8 and 10), I snagged them without hesitation.  Tasty, exotic, and good for you, I could overlook their far flung origin.  The boys liked them, but not enough to consume the lot before they deteriorated!

Fig Preserves in under 3 hours
Alas, I was so disorganized with my canning supplies - we've moved since I last canned (20+lbs of sour cherries, much more than that of peaches) - that I could not find lids so the fig preserves had to go to the refrigerator.  They are delicious and pathetically easy.  Of course, I cannot find the exact recipe online but I have it jotted down, er, somewhere.  Until then, know that it involved cutting the washed figs in half, tossing with some sugar (ok, a lot of sugar) in a stockpot, and cooking down for a couple hours.  In the last 30 minutes, you add sliced lemons that, believe me, you do not want to pull out later.  The candied tart taste of the thin lemon slices adds additional class to an already decadent breakfast treat.

Then came the farmer's market with the boys, they had yummy tamales and tasted local honey, where I picked up some beets on a whim.  Things One and Two do love beets, I'm not so fond of giving them to Thing Two because, let's face it, he is Pig-Pen when he eats and I have yet to find a laundry solution to beet juice.  To prolong the inevitable...

And finally, I have tried my hand at pickles.  I've made many a jam, but clearly, pickles are going to require a packing talent I do not have as yet!  Look at that space at the bottom!  *hangs head*

As I survey my counter full of veg and my very messy house, I wonder what my house guest tonight would prefer...a clean bathroom or some Red Onion Jam?

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